Colour by numbers + MI5 = The Copey experience.

Laura with children Copey de dota 129

This week was my first week of teaching and believe me I was so happy to start, that’s why I’m here for after all. After three weeks of not doing anything I was suddenly rushed with a million and one things to do. I have been asking for the syllabus since I arrived and every time I was told that it was on the way. However, through no direct fault of anyone in particular, I was told that it still wasn’t ready two days prior to me beginning classes. I told the board that I would make one myself which they agreed to. So everyone who doubts my organisational skills, please note it is fate for me not to be organised, even when I try to be, something gets in the way. I began to plan the syllabus but as I had no idea what the children had done before it was very difficult. In the end I decided to use the first week eliciting what they already knew.
Although my classes have been small I have found them to be very difficult to teach, due to both the size and the range of ability. All of my classes seem to have one or two children who have never studied English before. With a want not to segregate them solely from the rest of the class I have been trying to include them; however this is just not possible. I have to figure a way to teach them the basics such as numbers and colours whilst I teach the rest of the class how to join sentences and conjugate verbs. I don’t particularly want to leave children sitting there for half an hour while I am explaining the task to the other children.
As the learning centre is very limited on resources, I am trying to make lots of resources that they can reuse. So instead of attempting to learn Spanish or reading in the sun, like most normal people would do, I have been sitting in what has felt like a prison this week, the learning centre, cutting out ABC’s and days of the week. WOOHOO! The joys of teaching…who am I kidding, I actually love it!
After finishing my ‘alphabet’ on Wednesday, I returned to my house really late (don’t laugh, 10.00pm is like 4am here) to find the doors locked and everyone in bed. Crap! I could see Paulina and Violetta asleep in bed. Ironically, about an hour before, I had had a conversation with Angela about how her friend had gotten locked out of their host family’s house so ended up sleeping on the lawn with a bunch of laundry to keep her warm. You have no idea how much I didn’t want to wake them but as I stood on the door step in shorts and a t-shirt shivering, I knew I couldn’t do the same thing. The back door I though… but I had no such luck, it was locked. I tried the front door again…Nope. After pacing up and down outside my host families windows for a few minutes, it began to rain. I decided I would have to wake them. I ran around to the back to put my laptop and carefully cut out letters under shelter, I would be damned if they got ruined. All of a sudden, next to the shelter, I spotted a small open window. BINGO! I pushed it further open and tried to climb in, it was literally the smallest space ever but I was determined to get through it. One leg at a time and then my arms. The whole episode would have been hilarious to watch, I would pay to see it on video.
After about five minutes of struggling, a bruised knee and a scrapped arm, I was in. Who knew stealth training was part of the Copey experience?! I opened the door and grabbed my stuff. As I tried to creep into bed, the phone began ringing. All my hard work to not wake the house was about to be undone. I grabbed the phone quickly and in my best Spanglish (a mix between Spanish and English) answered it. ‘Hola….’ No answer. ‘Hola….’ No reply. I hung up. No one around here would call and not say anything at that time of night; I am convinced it was a neighbour calling to check that we were not being burgled. As far as I know, I managed to get away with it and my host family do not know, although just because I haven’t heard anything does not mean that the whole town doesn’t know about the embarrassing affair. Maybe I should just stick to my ‘colour by numbers’ day job and leave the MI5 antics to the professionals.


Turning into a Tico, hardly. Turning into a Yank, quite possibly…

So after a crazy weekend of drinking, culture and probably the whole of the Costa Rican Peace Corp, I am back in Copey. Back to what now seems like normality. So in Copey, there four of us volunteers, two from the Peace Corp, Rebecca and Angela, and two English teachers, Hayley and I; this weekend we all had our fair share of fun. On Friday, after a stressful day I headed to Rebecca’s house for dinner. The foodie that she is, whipped Hayley and I up a simple but delicious pasta with good-for-you chocolate bran cookies as dessert. After a few glasses of wine, which I may add, went to my head very quickly, a good catch up and an episode of the Simpsons do England, I headed home. It was just what I needed, I slept like a baby. 
On Saturday morning I woke up full of energy and looking forward to the weekend.  After waving good bye to my host brother Jose, who was heading off to university in San Jose for the first time (tear), Hayley and I headed to the Santa Maria town fair. We arrived at about 1.00pm, before things had really kicked off, but were kept occupied by looking around the few stalls that were there and waiting an hour for two beers and a portion of chips (no joke). In the bar, we met the new Copey state school English teacher, who ended up offering us paid work in his classes. BONUS!!!
The fair officially got underway about 3:00pm when the parade started, I couldn’t wait to see it. However my interest was soon lost as I discovered that all it actually consisted of was three and a half hours of horses parading through the streets of Santa Maria. These horses were not show horses, nor were they pretty or done up, but were solely taken from peoples stables and ridden down the street by their owners who were dressed in cowboy clothing. It was not what I would call authentic or interesting. However, after a few beers we soon got in the spirit and enjoyed the sun. 
 Sunday was of course, as every American around the world knows, Superbowl Sunday. My friend Rachael and I met up in San Jose (central ground) for a bit of a catch up and as the game was on, decided to join the rest of the American population in San Jose and head to Hooters. Upstairs in Hooters were Rebecca and Angela with pretty much most of the Peace Corp volunteers in Costa Rica. Squeezed into this small room were about 80 people. Jugs of beer, chicken wings and baseball caps were rife. I don’t think we could have chosen to do anything more American if we tried. Jose came to join us for the game, he didn’t really know anyone in San Jose yet and we said we would show him around, fancy that, I’ve only been there a few times myself.  With Rachael a Packers fan I got roped into supporting the ‘green and yellows’; this actually worked out well as they were the same colours as the Oregon Ducks, my old team. True to nature, my team won and as some Stealers fans had made bets with us, Rachel and I got brought a round of drinks. WOOHOO!!! The other highlight of the night was my ability to persuade many of the volunteers that I was also in the Peace Corp, that they had expanded on a trail to the UK and I was the first Brit to be allowed in. With the amount of beer I had I’m not sure how I managed to pull it off and remember the lingo, but somehow it worked. Not looking forward to my next meeting with them though….Haha!
Looking back at the weekend, I am disappointed to think that after four years of university my drinking skills have started finally failing me, I am officially knackered and it didn’t take me much to send me on my way to being very merry each day. I think though, as I won’t be going out very often, that will become a constant re-occurrence in Costa Rica. Cheap nights out here I come!!!


Eaten Alive, NOT good times.

First and foremost I feel I should apologise to mi amigo Beth, for laughing at her after every holiday she has come back from with deformed legs from the mosquitos feasting on her blood. I now feel your pain. Three months I spent in Africa and I think I got about ten bites in total, three weeks I’ve been in Costa Rica and I have 32 bites ON ONE LEG!!!! That’s not to mention the rest of my body, including one on my butt, which I am unsure of it happened? I think I may adopt an Iguana and carry him around with me, apparently they eat the buggers.
As if my polka dot body wasn’t enough to live with over the weekend I caught an infection in my thumb (random I know) which caused it to double in size and was apparently immune to antibiotics. So even when I wanted to scratch the mounds on my legs, I couldn’t as it hurt my thumb too much; probably a good thing to be honest. The only thing that cured my thumb was a good old fashioned needle and alcohol, when I say needle I mean safety pin, it’s all we had… but anyways it was pretty gross.
Apart from having a gammy thumb and a multi-bitten body I love Copey.  I am still getting used to the slow pace of life and the lack of entertainment. During the first week I spent most of my time trying to adjust and find my feet, I spent my time working on my Spanish, going running and explored the local towns (who all have internet, unlike Copey). On Thursday I went for the most beautiful hike up the mountains and ended up in a farmers land. He was so friendly and let me look around his land, at one stage he called me over to show me the fish jumping in the river. It is difficult to describe the beauty of the mountains around here, I found myself stopping every five minutes to take pictures, every site more beautiful than the last. The forest is littered with streams and wildlife, clear water cascading off of rocks to create waterfalls and trees so green and so tall you feel overwhelmed. If it wasn’t for the damn mosquitos I would be up there now.  
During the weekend I visited my friend Rachael in Guapiles, what can I say, the heat nearly killed me. Not overly sunny but it was more humid then a greenhouse. It’s the kind of place you want to shower three times a day. During my stay, apart from checking out the town, we went to Limon a beach on the Caribbean coast. The area is populated with tourists and I there was litter in certain places, saying this, it’s beauty would still beat any UK beach hands down (well that’s not really difficult). I cannot wait to explore further as I am confident that there is even more spectacular, remote places further south. Maybe this weekend, before classes start, I could sneak off to top off my tan. ;)